The first day of school is still 1 1/2 weeks away. But incoming kindergartners got a taste of what to expect during kindergarten kick-off this week.
Most elementary schools in the Kennewick School District held kick-off events to help ease the transition.
Students got to visit their school, meet the staff, and get a sense of what their kindergarten experience will be like. They got a taste of everything from story time, to classroom work, to navigating the lunch line and heading outside for recess.
"By the time they get here for the actual first day, we already know them. They know the school. It's a much better transition," said Kim Lembeck, principal of Washington Elementary, which pioneered a kindergarten kick-off last year.
This year's event at Washington was three days, culminating in a "safari" around the school, in which parents and kindergartners explore and familiarize themselves with the staff and building.
The days leading up to the safari were full of information and fun, too.
One morning, students spent time listening to stories and coloring. And they got to know each other.
"I'm 5 years old," one boy said to a new schoolmate.
"I'm 5, too!" the schoolmate responded.
"Me, too!" said another.
During the kick-off, school staff also evaluated the kindergartners so they could make balanced class assignments and be ready to hit the ground running when school starts.
Lembeck said the kick-off is an invaluable part of preparing for the school year. It's also a lot of fun.
"We love it," she said. "We get kids in the building again. We miss them all summer."